Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil To Cook With
When you have high cholesterol and diabetes, you should increase the good fats, or monosaturated fats such as olive oil in your diet. In general, fats that are liquid at room temperature are better to use than fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter, margarine, vegetable shortening, or animal fat/lard. These all contain saturated and trans fats, which will raise cholesterol, namely LDL-C and triglycerides.
Getting A Cholesterol Test
We recommend that all adults should get a cholesterol check, no matter what your age or how healthy you feel.
High cholesterol doesnt usually have any signs or symptoms, and it can be caused by your genes, so we advise getting a check even if you are young, fit and feel healthy.
High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A cholesterol test, along with other simple tests including a blood pressure test,BMI and waist measurement, will give you a good idea of your heart health and show you if you need to make any lifestyle changes or need treatment.
A cholesterol check involves a simple blood test. Your healthcare professional should also check another blood fat called triglycerides, as these also affect your heart health.
Find Out Your Heart Age With The Heart Age Tool
Once you have your cholesterol results, you can work out your risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years using the NHS Heart Age Tool. You will get a more accurate result if you know your blood pressure numbers too. The heart age tool is designed for people aged 25 to 84.
Adults age 40-74 are also invited for NHS Health Checks which includes other simple tests to look at your heart health.
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How Are Cholesterol Tests Results Used
Your doctor will make a treatment recommendation based on your level of heart disease risk. Guidelines do not use a single cholesterol level to determine treatment options.
- If you already have coronary heart disease with symptoms such as chest pain or a previous heart attack, taking medication to reduce your low density lipoprotein cholesterol is very beneficial and possibly life-saving.
- If you have been hospitalized due to heart attack or stroke, you will start treatment before you leave the hospital. The latest 2018 cholesterol guidelines recommend using a high-intensity statin , such as higher doses of rosuvastatin or atorvastatin to get cholesterol levels below 70 mg/dL. You will be encouraged to follow a heart-healthy diet, exercise, lose weight and stop smoking, if needed.
- If you do not have a diagnosis of heart disease but your cholesterol levels are high, your doctor will look at your other risk factors, and may determine your 10-year risk of cardiac disease. Usually, lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and exercise are implemented for the first 6 to 12 months. Diet and exercise can drop cholesterol levels by roughly 10 percent.
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.
Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:
- Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
- Change the way you eat. Limit the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
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Why Is Cholesterol Important To Our Bodies
Every cell in the body needs cholesterol, which helps the cell membranes form the layers. These layers protect the contents of the cell by acting as the gatekeeper to what things can enter or leave the cell. It is made by the liver and is also used by the liver to make bile, which helps you digest foods. Cholesterol is also needed to make certain hormones and to produce vitamin D. Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet your bodys needs for these important functions.
How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Low
An HDL cholesterol test and LDL cholesterol test measure different types of cholesterol. The two types of cholesterol are transported in the blood in distinct kinds of particles.
In common descriptions, HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol while LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol. The amount of HDL cholesterol compared to LDL cholesterol can be an important consideration in cardiovascular health.
Measuring HDL cholesterol is more straightforward than measuring LDL cholesterol. For this reason, levels of LDL cholesterol are most often calculated using a formula based on levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In some situations, though, a doctor may prescribe a direct LDL test.
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Womens Normal Cholesterol Levels
- Normal cholesterol levels for women, especially LDL, should be kept below 100 mg/dL. For women who have heart disease risk factors, the upper limit of LDL levels is 70 mg/dL.
- LDL amounts reaching 130 mg/dL are considered a condition of high cholesterol.
- HDL levels in women tend to be higher than in men. The reason is, women have estrogen hormones that help keep HDL levels in their bodies higher. This condition will change when the woman has entered the menopause phase and lost estrogen. At this age, HDL levels can be defeated by LDL.
- Normal cholesterol levels for women are at least 50 mg/dL.
Where Should Cholesterol Be Checked
Its best for your primary care doctor to do the test. As noted, your cholesterol levels represent just one of many factors affecting your cardiovascular health. Your primary care physician will have a fuller understanding of your personal and family history, as well as any other risk factors that might apply.
If your cholesterol is checked at a public screening, they may measure your HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. But if HDL cholesterol isnt measured, knowing your total cholesterol levels still gives you valuable information. Getting your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and fasting blood sugar measured regularly should be part of your overall personal care plan.
If you obtain cholesterol screening results from a source outside of your doctors office, be sure to share those with your primary care physician. Additional data points help to establish your cardiovascular risk. This is particularly important for people who smoke, have other health conditions such as diabetes or inflammatory conditions, or have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: Nov 9, 2020
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Does Medicare Cover Blood Tests For Cholesterol
For people watching their cholesterol, routine screening blood tests are important. Medicare Part B generally covers a screening blood test for cholesterol once every five years. You pay nothing for the test if your doctor accepts Medicare assignment and takes Medicares payment as payment in full.
If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, Medicare may cover additional services. Medicare will typically cover medically necessary blood work used to help monitor your condition and how you respond to treatment, as well as any necessary doctor visits or outpatient tests related to managing your cholesterol.
Do I Need To Fast For A Lipid Panel
In most cases, you need to fast for 10 to12 hours before your lipid panel blood test. Fasting means not eating or drinking anything except water. In some cases, getting a lipid panel test without fasting is possible.
In any case, its important to ask your healthcare provider in advance about whether you need to fast before the test. Always follow the instructions that your provider gives you. If your provider has instructed you to fast and you accidentally break the fast , please let your provider know because the test is not as useful without fasting.
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Can I Test My Own Cholesterol At Home
Its better to have your cholesterol tested by a professional because taking blood and measuring cholesterol levels is a skilled job and your results will be affected by the way you do the test. Going to a health professional means you will get an accurate reading.
We dont recommend home sampling, but if you do decide to test your cholesterol at home, follow these simple steps to take your sample safely and get a more accurate result.
Why Age Is A Factor
The recommended ranges for your cholesterol will vary based on age and gender. As people get older, cholesterol levels rise naturally. For example, people who have gone through menopause may have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that childrens cholesterol levels be checked between ages 9 and 11.
However, children with certain risk factors, such as those whose parents or grandparents have had heart attacks or been diagnosed with blocked arteries at age 55 or earlier in males or 65 or earlier in females, should be tested for cholesterol between ages 2 and 10.
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How Can I Raise My Hdl Level
If your HDL level is too low, lifestyle changes may help. These changes may also help prevent other diseases, and make you feel better overall:
- Eat a healthy diet. To raise your HDL level, you need to eat good fats instead of bad fats. This means limiting saturated fats, which include full-fat milk and cheese, high-fat meats like sausage and bacon, and foods made with butter, lard, and shortening. You should also avoid trans fats, which may be in some margarines, fried foods, and processed foods like baked goods. Instead, eat unsaturated fats, which are found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts. Limit carbohydrates, especially sugar. Also try to eat more foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.
- Stay at a healthy weight. You can boost your HDL level by losing weight, especially if you have lots of fat around your waist.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise can raise your HDL level, as well as lower your LDL. You should try to do 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days.
- Avoid cigarettes.Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can lower your HDL level. If you are a smoker, ask your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit. You should also try to avoid secondhand smoke.
- Limit alcohol. Moderate alcohol may lower your HDL level, although more studies are needed to confirm that. What we do know is that too much alcohol can make you gain weight, and that lowers your HDL level.
Your Test Results: A Preview
Your test results will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood . Your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will also consider other risk factors, such as age, family history, smoking status, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lipid profile or lipid panel is a blood test that will give you results for your HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total blood cholesterol.
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Who Is It Best For
Anyone with a heart valve problem, murmur, or history of heart attack. Lower percentages of blood pumped by the left ventricle may indicate dysfunction and increased risk of congestive heart failure.
A blood test measures levels of this abrasive amino acid, which irritates the lining of arteries, opening them up to infiltration by LDL and leading to plaque and blood clotting.
What Do My Test Results Mean
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Results are given in milligrams per deciliter . Here are the ranges for total cholesterol in adults:
- Normal: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 200 to 239 mg/dL
- High: At or above 240 mg/dL
These are the adult ranges for LDL cholesterol:
- Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Near optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
- High: 160 to 189 mg/dL
- Very high: 190 mg/dL and higher
The above numbers are general guidelines, because actual goals depend on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.
Your HDL cholesterol levels should be above 40 mg/dL. This type of fat is actually good for you because it lowers your risk of heart disease. The higher the number, the lower your risk. Sixty mg/dL or above is considered the level to protect you against heart disease.
High levels of triglycerides are linked with a higher heart disease risk. Here are the adult ranges:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high: Above 500 mg/dL
Depending on your test results, your healthcare provider will decide whether you need lifestyle changes or medicines to lower your cholesterol.
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What Does The Test Result Mean
In general, healthy lipid levels help to maintain a healthy heart and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. A healthcare practitioner will take into consideration total cholesterol results and the other components of a lipid profile as well as other risk factors to help determine a persons overall risk of heart disease, whether treatment is necessary and, if so, which treatment will best help to lower the persons risk.
In 2002, the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III provided the guidelines for evaluating lipid levels and determining treatment. However, in 2013, the ACC and AHA issued guidelines for adults that made recommendations on who should receive cholesterol-lowing therapy. .
However, use of the updated guidelines remains controversial. Many still use the older guidelines from the NCEP ATP III to evaluate lipid levels and cardiovascular disease risk:
For adults, in a routine setting where testing is done to screen for risk, the test results are grouped in three categories of risk:
For children and adolescents:
- A cholesterol below 170 mg/dL is acceptable.
- A result of 170-199 mg/dL is borderline.
- A total cholesterol reading greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL is considered high.
For young adults:
- A cholesterol below 190 mg/dL is acceptable.
- A result of 190-224 mg/dL is borderline.
- A total cholesterol greater than or equal to 225 mg/dL is considered high.
Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
Talking with your doctor can provide the most detailed information about your HDL cholesterol test results. Some of the following questions may be useful in obtaining detailed explanations from your physician:
- What was my HDL cholesterol level? Is that level healthy for me?
- Were any other types of cholesterol measured? If so, what were the results of those measurements?
- Do I have risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
- Should I have another cholesterol test? If so, when?
- Are there any other tests that you recommend to evaluate my cardiovascular health?
- Do you recommend any lifestyle changes or treatments to reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease?
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How Often Should I Get A Cholesterol Test
When and how often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger::
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older::
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
Ive Heard About Ginger But Does It Work To Lower Cholesterol
Ginger has been used in traditional medicine for years to help with stomach issues, arthritic joints, as well as heart conditions. It works for motion sickness, morning sickness in pregnancy, and it may lower cholesterol. There has only been one rather small study that looked at the cholesterol lowering effects of ginger. Subjects took 3,000 mg per day for 45 days. They had an average drop in total cholesterol by 13 mg/dl. Triglycerides also dropped by 9.5. Even so, larger studies need to be done to validate this finding. As a spice, ginger is tasty in recipes.
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